Diabetes travel checklist
Wednesday, 11 December 2019
Using a travel checklist will ensure that your diabetes doesn’t hold you back from enjoying your holiday or business travels.
Being prepared and having some safety strategies in place can ensure the best travel experiences with a minimum of adverse effects. Travelling overseas with different time zones, climates, foods and hygiene standards can be successfully managed with pre-trip advice from your doctor or diabetes educator.
Follow this simple travel checklist and be well-prepared for your journey.
Discuss plans with GP
- Have a thorough check up with your GP before your travels and ask for some extra scripts. Remember that to go through Customs you must carry multiple copies of all your scripts and a GP letter which outlines your medical condition/s. Scripts should include your name, the name and type of your medication and your doctor’s contact details. The GP letter should state your medical conditions, medications you require and the devices you use for your insulin and blood glucose testing.
- Discuss time zone changes and how to adjust medication, ensure that you have a record of relevant and up to date vaccinations and discuss a sick day management plan.
Medications and insulin
- Make sure you check your blood glucose levels regularly while on your journey. Talk to your diabetes educator for guidance on taking medications over different time zones.
- Ensure that you have more than enough medication for your entire trip and in case you are delayed or stay longer than expected.
- It is advisable to check if your medication is available at your destination and whether Australia has a reciprocal health agreement with overseas destinations: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/medicare/reciprocal-health-care-agreements/australians
Remember to carry your Medicare card.
- Ask about your airline’s regulations on carrying diabetes supplies. It is recommended to carry testing equipment, insulin and Glucagon delivery in personal hand luggage as luggage in the hold freezes. Ideally, pack medications in two separate carry-on bags in case one goes missing.
- There are also Australian airline regulations about carrying sharps so do your research before you travel. A website called safesharps.org.au is a helpful resource to find safe disposal for sharps. Include a small approved sharps container, available from your pharmacy. Check if your hotels and airports offer a sharps disposal service for used lancets and syringes.
- If you are travelling to a place which has variable temperatures a cool pack is recommended for storage of medication and equipment. Insulin can be stored at room temperature (15-25 deg) for 28 days. If you are travelling for longer than 28 days then extra supplies should be kept at refrigerator temperatures in a suitable cool pack.
- It is wise to carry a hypo kit containing fast and slow acting carbohydrates and a basic first aid kit to treat minor ailments such as cuts and abrasions.
- If necessary, check with your airline to see if electronic devices used for monitoring blood glucose or infusing insulin can be operated in-flight.
- People who need to carry supplies of insulin will be asked to present the insulin at Customs and show proof of their condition and need for insulin. Overseas flight travel requires, along with your GP letters, other identification that indicates you have diabetes.
- The NDSS card is accepted as primary proof that if you use insulin to manage your diabetes then you need to carry your diabetes equipment.
- Additional photographic proof of identify, such as a driver’s license or passport may also be required. In case of emergency it is useful to carry at all times a list of contact numbers for your health team and insulin company (if required).
- It is recommended that you take extra supplies such as a spare blood glucose meter, lancets, pen needles, insulin pen, blood glucose strips, extra batteries, sharps container, ketone strips, sensors (if required).
- You may require extra carbohydrates during your travel, especially if travelling by plane. Consider packing some extra carbohydrate snacks you can easily access and also you will be prepared in case of long delays. When booking your flights, you can tell the airline you have dietary requests or choose pre-cooked meals low in saturated fat and high in fibre and carbohydrate.
- Research food availability at your destination so that you know where to find healthy food options.
- Choose and book a travel insurance that provides adequate cover for your particular health condition/s and activities.
This seems like a long list but planning and preparation will ensure your safety and well-being. Enjoy your journey.